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Restart Your Libido

In the not-too-distant past, you and your partner couldn't keep your paws off each other. Several times a week - or day! - all over the house, in the car, on vacation, before work, after work…it didn't matter where or when. But now, sex wouldn't even cross your mind if your partner didn't badger you into giving it up once in a while. So what happened? As distressing as this situation may be, it's extremely common and normal. In fact, low libido plagues 33 percent of American women according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Laura Berman, PhD, founder of the Berman Center in Chicago (a clinic devoted to women's sexual issues), agrees "Low sexual desire is the most common sexual complaint among couples."

There is a laundry list of reasons why your libido may be less than robust these days. The day-to-day pressure of juggling life as a woman, employee, wife, and mother; medications, such as birth control pills, antidepressants and blood pressure reducers; and certain medical conditions, such as depression and diabetes, can all decrease your interest in sex. Women often report that their children provide enough emotional feedback and physical contact that they don't crave it from their previous source: their partner. And your body image might not be as good as it once was. Pregnancy and the lack of time and energy during early motherhood can result in a few extra pounds and curves in new places, which cause many women to lose self esteem and feel unattractive.

In a recent issue, Newsweek stated that 15 to 20 percent of American couples are having sex fewer than 10 times a year, qualifying them as "sexless marriages." But there is hope for you and your partner. Here are some tips to get your libido revved up and ready for passion!

Talk to your doctor. Your sagging libido may very well have a medical, chemical, or hormonal cause. You could have an underlying condition, such as undiagnosed diabetes or a thyroid disorder, or you could simply need a hormonal boost. If you are taking medication for a specific condition, ask your doctor about alternative drugs that don't have sexual side effects. Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter topical oils and lubricants that can help grease the wheels, so to speak.

Reconnect with your partner. Plan date nights with your partner at least once a week. These need not be expensive, elaborate nights out, but you do need to get out of your routine, away from the usual distractions, gaze at each other and talk. Agree not to have sex at the end of the date so neither one of you feels pressured or focused on a big finale. This is about rediscovering and enjoying each other's company and getting that spark back. And don't dwell on the kids, housework, financial decisions and the like. Try sharing your memories of the hottest sex you two had together and what he did or does that blows your mind and that really turns you on. Keep it positive (this is not the time to bring up your list of turn offs and the things he does that annoy you, and the same goes for him), make it fun, make it sexy. The more you talk about the good parts of sex, the more those thoughts will creep back into your mind...again and again, and at all hours of the day and night. The seductive art of talking dirty is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Explore erotica. This can be an uncomfortable arena for many women; however, watching or reading erotic material can get many women in the mood - even when they do it without their partner. As talking about sex with your partner can stir up those hot memories, erotica can keep sexual thoughts and fantasies running through your head. And if your only experience with erotica is a bad porno from 1975 that was made exclusively by and for men, it's time to revisit the industry! Times have changed and there is a wealth of literature, products and movies created by and for women that are tastefully done and guaranteed to titillate. However, if you are dead-set against erotica of any kind, don't force yourself as the negative association will only dampen your libido more.

Get some exercise. Exercise is beneficial for many reasons, whether or not you want to lose any weight. Feeling out of shape or heavy has been shown to make many women feel unattractive and anything but sexy - even if their partner is telling them they're the hottest thing on the block. Dropping just a few pounds and firming up those muscles can give your libido a huge boost! And for those of you are perfectly happy with your bodies, exercise increases blood flow…to your entire body, genitals included! And the endorphins released during intense exercise also help you de-stress, feel relaxed, improve your attitude and may just put you in the mood for a tryst betwixt the sheets!

Put it on the schedule. Scheduling sex is a controversial idea, so do what feels comfortable for you. Some experts (and their patients) believe that scheduling sex can help get you back in the groove due to the "fake it until you make it" phenomenon. Even if you don't feel like it, sometimes just beginning the act of sex can jump-start your sex drive and you can wind up enjoying yourself more than you thought you would. One woman compared it to going to the gym: you don't want to go, but once you get there, you enjoy your workout and feel great afterwards. However, other experts and their patients agree that scheduling sex is tantamount to "pity sex" which can lead to resentment in both partners and harm the relationship more. One husband likened it to "corpse sex" and said it only increased his frustration and feelings of rejection. So, the best advice is to give it a try. If it turns out to turn you on, great! But if you just can't get into it and it only makes you feel worse, then stop and don't try it again.

Sex is one of the most complex, intimate, personal aspects of a relationship, especially for women. Our sexuality is often tied up in our own self image, our feelings of adequacy, our relationship with our partner and everyday stress. And what works for your best girlfriend and her partner may not work for you. The best way to work it out and recharge your sex life is to communicate with your partner, talk to your doctor, experiment with different methods, and try to relax. Your libido isn't dead, it's just taking a little nap. Time to wake it up!



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